Even when using a phone with its relatively small screen, it can be very convenient to be able to watch a video using Picture-in-Picture (PiP). You can play a music video while checking your Twitter feed or chat with a friend while watching a favorite movie. In iOS 14, Apple has now made it possible to use PiP on your iPhone or iPad. And using it is extremely easy.
When watching a video, just swipe up to the home screen. The video continues to play as you check your email, reply to a text, or do whatever you need to do. You can even make the video bigger or smaller by using pinch to zoom; or you can sweep it completely out of the way. (It will continue to play; an arrow next to the screen shows where you can pull it back from.)
To return the video to full screen, just tap the “full screen”; icon in the upper right corner of the video. Close it completely by tapping “x” in the upper left corner.
Using PiP on an iPad works very well. You simply start your video and look for the PiP symbol (a box with an arrow pointing to a smaller box); if your iPad has a start button, you can press it instead. You can then move the video around the screen, make it bigger or smaller, and move it to a separate screen in the same way as with an iPhone. You can then use the “full screen” icon to expand it or the “x” to close it.
Not all apps work with PiP. Gadget Hacks has a list of all current (as far as they know) apps that support PiP on iOS 14, and it’s a pretty sure bet that the list will expand. With one exception: YouTube. If you use the free YouTube app, you’re in luck. YouTube only allows PiP for Premium subscribers.
A YouTube solution – for now
There is a cludge to run a free YouTube account in an iPhone PiP that works (or at least did so at the time of writing). It’s similar to a way to listen to music from YouTube in the background. Here’s what you do:
- Open youtube.com (not YouTube app) in your Safari browser
- Click on the AA icon in the upper left corner and select “Request Mobile Website”
- Launch your video and tap it so that it is in full screen
- Press it while it is playing so that you get the usual controls. The PiP symbol should be in the upper left corner. Choose it.
You are now playing the YouTube video in PiP. However, be aware that the PiP window will disappear as soon as the video is ready. If you want to play another one, you have to go through the whole process again. And, of course, there is no guarantee that YouTube will not even close this loophole at some point.